NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Meeting held on July 27, 2009
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, July 27, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were co-chairmen Aliya Aslam and Jay McGuigan and members Dennis Annarelli, Pam Fitzpatrick, Walt Leck and Autumn Thomas. Also present was Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Aslam noted that page 1, paragraph 3 should read, “…if the Planning Commission wishes it to do so, the EAC can assist in developing a checklist to identify land development projects that may need information similar to an EIS. “
Under New Business on page 3, Ms. Aslam ask that the following be inserted, “Ms. Aslam reported that groundwater resource management at the regional level is primarily under the jurisdiction of the DRBC, and that the DRBC has issued guidelines to municipalities to assist them in developing specific rules in a document entitled Guidelines for Developing an Integrated Resource Plan. She reported that the DRBC considers the development and implementation of an IRP as the responsibility of local governments.”
Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes as amended. Mr. Leck seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1, with Ms. Thomas abstaining.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Ms. Aslam said that the EAC still has not had a member commit to serving as liaison to the Coalition. She suggested that the members rotate attendance, which would require each member to attend only about twice a year.
The recording secretary noted that the Coalition would not be meeting in August.
Ms. Fitzpatrick said that the Coalition had been discussing some statements recently made about the dam and reservoir at Hidden Lake. She would follow up with the Coalition’s secretary for any updates.
Mr. Fisher said that there had been an informal presentation of the proposed redevelopment of the Stockburger property in Newtown Borough which might include some creek activities including a possible pedestrian bridge to the Township side of the creek.
Planning Commission: The Commission has been focusing its efforts on review of the zoning of the TC Town Commercial Zoning District on Sycamore Street.
Discussion of Projects
Wildlife Management: Jim and Jean Bray of Lower Makefield’s EAC were in attendance to discuss their research in wildlife management. Mr. Bray said that Lower Makefield began researching wildlife management primarily because of damage to the understory in Five Mile Woods. The Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors has voted to conduct a sharpshooting to cull the herd; this could include some bow hunting. The hunt has not taken place yet. Mrs. Bray said that non-lethal methods will not solve the problem, but neither will lethal.
Mrs. Bray discussed Streiter lights, which are placed along roadways to keep deer from running into oncoming cars. The success rates reported are primarily anecdotal, with no hard data on reduction of accidents. The costs can be very high, with a one mile stretch of road costing about $10,000. Most of the installations are for short distances along highways.
Mr. Bray said that he has concerns about lethal methods of wildlife management primarily because, in order to be effective they must be kept up to date. Holding a hunt once will not produce long term benefits. He has done extensive research on contraception, which is still not perfected. Lower Makefield has established a committee to research non-lethal alternatives.
Mr. Bray noted that Lower Makefield has focused its wildlife management efforts on protection of natural areas, where the use of sharpshooters could be beneficial. It might not be as effective in residential areas and might have little impact on deer/vehicle collisions.
The members discussed Newtown Township’s research on deer/vehicle collisions as the primary focus of research. Regarding deer hunting, members discussed with Mr. and Mrs. Bray such ideas as working with the State Gaming Commission on extending the hunting season, increasing the permitted number of kills and opening Township properties to controlled hunts. Because the surrounding municipalities, including Lower Makefield, are facing similar concerns, the members discussed collaborative, inter-municipal efforts toward wildlife management.
Mrs. Bray said that Lower Makefield has a Safe Driving Committee and a Citizens Traffic Commission. Perhaps these committees and Newtown Township could work on some public education on avoiding accidents with deer.
Mrs. Bray provided copies of some research on a number of wildlife management topics to members and agreed to share any other information she gathers. The members agreed that the issue is regional and the municipalities should communicate and share information.
Open Space: Mr. McGuigan reported that the Township had recently received the draft of the Open Space Comprehensive Plan from Bucks County Planning Commission. He explained that an ad hoc committee of Planning Commission, EAC and Park and Recreation Board members had prepared a draft plan which was then forwarded to the BCPC for additional information and comment. The plan is necessary if the Township wishes to participate in the County Open Space grant program. It is Mr. McGuigan’s understanding that the Board of Supervisors will now review and approve the plan.
Ms. Aslam asked to take home the maps prepared for the open space inventory. She said that she would like to further investigate wetlands which have not been delineated.
Mr. Leck said that he knew of a Newtown resident with some expertise in wetlands. He would provide Ms. Aslam with contact information.
Ms. Thomas said that she would help with reviewing of wetlands as this is part of her profession.
Energy Conservation: Ms. Thomas said that she has been in touch with someone at Middletown Township who is interested in working on a joint presentation for residents about energy conservation incentives available to homeowners. She will follow up on this.
Ms. Aslam reported that she had gone to see a demonstration of a wind turbine with the Township Manager and Public Works Director at Omnipoint in Dublin. The Township is working on finding an appropriate location for a wind turbine to help provide energy for the new municipal complex buildings.
Green Corner: Ms. Thomas said that she would like to investigate hosting a “Tree Tenders” workshop at the new municipal complex in the spring. The event would involve an educational component on tree planting and the planting of a donated tree. She would like to have some information on other Tree Tender workshops in the a area for the next newsletter.
Ms. Fitzpatrick said that a group of Bucks County EAC’s would be having an informal meeting on September 26, 2009 in the Lower Makefield Library. On the agenda will be groundwater resource management. She will provide additional information on the meeting to the EAC members.
Ms. Thomas reported that in response to the Green Corner in the last newsletter she had been contacted by Newtown Grant resident Judy Murrin, who has expressed interest in becoming involved with the EAC. She urged Ms. Murrin to submit a letter of interest to the Board of Supervisors to be appointed to the vacant seat on the EAC.
Ms. Aslam suggested that, looking ahead, the EAC might want to sponsor a clean-up event at the Neshaminy Creek in Tyler Park.
Ms. Aslam said that she has been thinking about the stormwater basin at Village at Newtown and suggested that the owners be urged to clean up the area to create a park like setting.
Mr. Leck said that he has some concern that the basin never drains completely. He does not think it is supposed to be a pond but there is always standing water.
The meeting adjourned at 10:30 PM.
Respectfully submitted by:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary